On a visit to eastern Europe, our hapless sex investigator pays the price for doing the dirty with a pal’s amazing girlfriend

 

I have always liked the idea of sleeping with whores. But in practice it never seems to work out for me. Part of the problem is that my expectations were set too high when I was younger. Then, the only brothels I knew about were in the movies. The World War I bordello a few miles behind the front, where gallant officers were taken upstairs by mademoiselles in silk underwear… the Wild West saloon with the high-kicking dancing girls, the piano player and the poker table… the sultan’s harem with courtesans of every race lying around the chuckling waters of a fountain, their firm, young bodies clad in veils. In my mind, whores were beautiful, stylish, warm-hearted creatures. But in reality they seldom are.

Sure enough, this month’s reminiscence doesn’t have a happy ending. In fact, it doesn’t even have a happy start, because I’m aware that many women are appalled by the idea of guys paying for sex. And as a single man, I can’t afford to piss off any potential girlfriends. So even though the story I am about to tell involves me catching scabies from an eastern European hooker, let me say right from the start that I am not a regular user. There have maybe been six times in my life. Eight, tops.

(Incidentally, it’s odd what people do get upset about when it comes to sex. I used to drink in a pub in Camberwell, and one of the regulars came back from a six month backpacking holiday around south-east Asia. He had dozens of photographs of young girls whose services he’d used, and was talking us through them at the bar. “That’s Ming-La, I had her twice, only fifteen quid… and this is Kuku, she sucked me off… and here’s Narinda and Baby from Bangkok, I did them together…” Eventually, one of the barmaids got tired of it. She accused him of being a sex tourist. “I am not a sex tourist,” he replied, white-lipped with fury at this accusation against his good name. “I am a sex traveller.”)

Anyway, on with the tale. I was in Prague, visiting my pal Ray who was teaching English there. I had to wait in the lobby of his college for classes to finish, and as I sat there on my suitcase I was amazed by the beauties wandering past. It was summer, communism was dead, skirts were high, cheekbones were amazing, everyone seemed to be 18 years old. It was like being backstage at a fashion show. I had flown out thinking I was on a mercy visit, coming to see my poor buddy who couldn’t get a decent job and probably had no money or friends, but now I could see why he was here. The fucker had it taped!

I mentioned this to him as we walked to a cafe in Wenceslas Square. “Yeah, I suppose they’re okay-looking,” he said. “And they’re certainly ape shit for westerners.” This information should have delighted me, given that I was there for a whole week, but I’d suddenly noticed a look about Ray that I’d never seen before. He wasn’t a handsome fellow, and had always struggled to pull back in London, but now he was somehow… sexy. When the bombshell of a waitress delivered our Cokes, he barely acknowledged the long slender legs and the creamy valley of cleavage popping out of her dress. Then it hit me: he was shining with the confidence of a man who’s getting quality sex on a regular basis.

“Which one is it?” I asked, urgently. “Was it that knockout blonde in the denim shorts? Or the dark one with the tiny waist and the shirt knotted under her tits?” He shook his head haughtily. “I don’t do the students.” This was insane, like living in a brewery and not drinking beer. “Who then?” He shrugged. “A model I met. She’s called Katya. You’ll see her tonight.” A model. This from a guy who had once gone two years without getting his leg over. Whose best chat up technique was, when very pissed, to lurch up to a girl, grasp his groin suggestively, and say, “Hi. They call me the roadie. Because I’m the one carrying all the heavy equipment.”

In an instant, one of the Great Secrets of Life had been revealed to me. If you want to have sex with women way out of your league, move to a much poorer country. We spent the afternoon wandering around the tourist attractions, and though I could appreciate the finery of the Charles bridge and the town hall clock, they were nothing compared to my first glimpse of Kayta. She stood about five-ten, had auburn hair down to her shoulders, the figure of Gisele, and light green eyes. Only her teeth, which were slightly uneven, stopped me from killing myself right there, but they hardly distracted from her beauty. In fact, they just made her seem cutely self-conscious, because she’d cover her mouth when she laughed.

We ate pork and dumplings in a local restaurant with candles set in bottles. Katya was every bit the attentive girlfriend. She poured his wine, laughed at his jokes, and every time her hand affectionately stroked his forearm, a knife twisted sharply in my heart. The only downside I could see to her, apart from the dentistry, was that her English was pretty basic. Evidently, Ray was too busy boning her to concentrate on her vocab. But I was clutching at straws, appalled by my friend’s outrageous good fortune, which seemed more and more unfair the drunker I got. As I watched the perfect symmetry of her face, I sat there thinking, “Christ, let her have really bad BO. Or horrible tattoos over her back. Or be hopeless in bed.”

Well, I couldn’t be sure about the armpits or the ink, but I soon got an idea of her abilities in the sack. I was bunking on the sofa in Ray’s flat, and she came back with us. After a glass of vodka and a cheery goodnight, they retired to his bedroom. For all the sonic privacy this gave them, they might as well have taken to the stage at Woodstock. For the next two hours I was privy to the sort of noises more commonly associated with a wildlife documentary about baboons. It was so depressing I couldn’t even manage a wank about her.

For the next couple of days I had to listen while he raved about her. Katya was so kind, Katya was so hard-working, Katya was going places… it was almost a relief when he said he had to drive to Bratislava for a night, so I could spend the day alone reading Franz Kafka and eating prune kolaches. Unfortunately, he announced that Katya had volunteered to show me the town in his absence and that I was to take the bus to her flat in the suburbs.

When I arrived she commented on the book in my back pocket, a copy of Metamorphosis. I asked her if she was interested in literature, and she said she had studied it for many years. However, when I tossed a few names in her direction – Dostoevsky, Pushkin – she looked utterly blank, and it soon became clear that she didn’t know Anna Karenina from Anneka Rice.

I wondered briefly why she would lie, but then we were out of the door and having fun in a series of smoky bars. You already know what happened next, and I won’t blame the drink. But I will blame her. She invited me back for a nightcap, and when we on her sofa she suddenly asked, in broken English, “You want give me present?” At first I was baffled. Was she asking me to send her a T-shirt when I got back to London? Or a pencil case shaped like Big Ben?

“Er… sure.” I told her. Her face lit up. “It is good,” she said. Then she took my face in her hands and kissed me. Okay, I admit I should have leapt up at once and gone back to Ray’s. But let’s not forget two important factors. One, she was gorgeous. And two, I’m a cunt. Plus in the heat of the moment, the added sin gave it piquancy. It was lust and betrayal and the chance to get naked with someone who – if the evidence of my ears was true – wasn’t so much a sexy girl as a potential new ride at Alton Towers. But then she tore her lips from mine and asked for her present now. “Hey?” I said.

She looked at me like I was an imbecile. “Money. Dollar. One hundred dollar.” Oh God, she was a whore. I didn’t know whether I was more appalled for me or for Ray. After all, if she was just cheating on him with me, well, I could understand that. After all, which little senorita, chica, or devyshka could resist? But it seemed she was putting so many cuckold’s horns on him he could have got part-time work as a hat stand. I also felt a lurch of anxiety inside me. I’d had a few experiences in brothels, none of them good, and my eyes scoped round the room to see if I was in one now. Possible two way mirrors? No. Cupboards containing large, unsympathetic men with baseball bats? No. Tacky furniture painted in the colour known as Jewish racing gold? No. My conclusion: she must be a freelance. A model.

Drunk, horny, confused, I paid up. I usually like to haggle, but in the circumstances it seemed wrong to ask for ‘mates rates’. After a brief debate about the sterling-dollar exchange mechanism, which could prove erotic only to Gordon Brown, we headed into her bedroom. She was naked in moments, and though her body was everything I’d been led to expect, I was oddly unaroused. Partly, I felt like a rube. Partly, I was aware that Ray was in there too, like Banquo’s ghost. And partly, it was such a shitty little room. Katya lived in a concrete tower block, and where she slept was like a prison cell. The curtain was just a cloth pinned over the window, the carpet was a square of matting, the air smelled of damp. It was easy to imagine cockroaches scuttling under the nylon sheets. The Czech people might have escaped years of Soviet repression, but clearly the furniture hadn’t.

And the sex? It was dreadful. Even though I was the customer, she planted my head between her legs and made me lap away for ages. It got so I couldn’t feel my jaw. My tongue was numb. And while this explained the chorus of delight emanating from Ray’s bedroom, it filled me with neuroses. She was a hooker. God knows what dirty fingers and cocks had been down here before. I might as well be lapping at a Petri dish! I was going to die, and Ray would not come to my funeral…

The next day, I couldn’t stay in Prague. I left Ray a message saying I’d been offered some work in London and hightailed it back. A day later, I began to itch terribly between my fingers and around my stomach. I had to scratch until I bled. It was agony. Eventually, I went to casualty where I was told I had scabies, a mite that feeds voraciously on human skin. The doctor gave me some cream and asked me how I’d caught it. What could I say? That it was a curse from God? That I’d slept with a whore? I thought fast. “Well,” I told him. “I got the bus in Prague.” “Yes,” he replied. “That’ll do it.”